'Peace of Mind' Lake Frierson's Most Valuable Commodity
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August 27, 2002'Peace of Mind' Lake Frierson's Most Valuable Commodity
By Jay Harrod
Arkansas Department of Parks and TourismArkansas's 33rd state park, Lake Frierson, is best known for its wild dogwoods and a fishing lake that produces bass, bream, channel catfish and crappie. At the small park in northeast Arkansas, visitors can also enjoy hiking trails, a playground, a picnic area, a pavilion, rental boats, a barrier-free fishing pier and seven campsites. Lake Frierson is located 10 miles north of Jonesboro on Ark. 141. For more information, including information on available interpretive programs, call (870) 932-2615 or visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com.
Although motorboats often ply the waters of Lake Frierson, the 350-acre lake set amidst a thick hardwood forest draws people to its banks to enjoy a day in lawn chairs fishing with welcomed company. A day where the serenity, the chirping of birds, a good book and picnic lunch might well be as important as the catch of the day.
Unlike other regions of the state, Arkansas's northeast corner boasts no mammoth reservoirs such as Bull Shoals, Beaver, Maumelle, Ouachita, Millwoood or Chicot. This fact, though, adds to the appeal of Frierson. Nestled in a beautiful setting atop Crowley's Ridge, the lake is well known -- and used -- among fishermen.
Those who planned Lake Frierson knew the area needed more lakes. In fact, Frierson is one of nine lakes the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission now manages on Crowley's Ridge, which, in Arkansas, runs from the northeast corner of the state near Piggott, through Jonesboro and on to the Mississippi River at Helena.
The first agency to conduct preliminary work for Lake Frierson was the U.S. Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service, which was then known as the Soil Conservation Service. "They came in, surveyed and built the lake," said former Park Superintendent Linda Bales. The lake, which was dedicated in 1974, was named for a Jonesboro attorney, Charles Frierson, who had donated hours of research and provided the documentation necessary for the purchase of the land.
"The Game and Fish was the second agency that came on board. They stocked the lake [with fish] and began managing the lake," Bales said. "The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism was the last agency to become involved. They were encouraged to develop it as a recreational area."
Although Parks and Tourism actually acquired land at Frierson years before, the department did not begin the first phase of park construction at the lake until 1978.
Many of the facilities and improvements found at Lake Frierson State Park today are due -- in large part -- to Amendment 75, a 1/8-cent conservation sales tax approved by Arkansas voters in 1996. "Money from the tax has been a real blessing," Bales said. "We have renovated one restroom and built another. We have put roofs on two different buildings. We have built a new day-use pavilion, and we've paved some roads."
Outside of the prime fishing at Frierson, Bales said her park is unique in many ways. First, while hunting is not allowed at state parks (other than at Beaver Lake State Park), visitors and campers at Frierson can enjoy hunting, when in season, on the three sides of the lake managed by the Game and Fish Commission. "They own and manage a buffered strip all the way around on the other side of the lake. It's a pretty good size area," she said.
According to Bales, Frierson's proximity to Crowley's Ridge State Park also serves as an attraction. "Crowley's Ridge is only six miles up the road," Bales said. "They have swimming and all these great facilities and interpretive programs and so forth. But they don't have the lake that we have. People can go back and forth from our park to their park. Some of them stay at Crowley's and come down here to fish. Some of the fishermen stay down here and take their children or grandchildren to Crowley's to swim. So we compliment each other very well."
During the spring, Frierson's blooming wild dogwoods attract nature lovers from near and far. "Oh the dogwoods are beautiful. Folks come from miles around to drive through our park to see the dogwoods," Bales said. And birding enthusiasts find useful the park's bird checklist developed by students from Arkansas State University.
Like many other small state parks, Bales knows that often it is hospitality -- and not amenities -- that makes visitors return. "We are very, very small, but we do work to make our guests feel comfortable and appreciated," she said. "People come here for peace of mind, and I think they usually find it."####
Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"